Vision, mission and values are important elements of the organizational strategy for your financial planning and wealth advisory firm. They should be written and shared with every member of your firm. Need to write or refresh yours?
Whether you don’t yet have formally-written vision, mission and values statements or you are looking to refresh something you created in the past, I’ve outlined simple processes that any financial advisor can use to get started. Let’s begin by defining exactly what each type of statement is.
A firm’s vision is a future-directed statement that describes the ideal state of the organization. It answers the question, “Where do we want to go?”
A firm’s mission describes the fundamental purpose of the organization. It tells why the organization exists and answers the question, “What do we do?”
A firm’s values are the shared set of core beliefs that determine the culture of the organization. Values answer the questions, “Who are we?” and “What do we believe?”
Now let’s look at how you can create or update your own vision, mission and values statements for your business. There can be a push-pull between crafting too-lofty statements that spur employee cynicism and creating too-limiting statements that don’t leave room for forward thinking. It is important to aspire and inspire, and to create a shared image of what your organization stands for and where it wants to go.
Capturing Your Business Vision
Your vision is a statement of aspiration, not necessarily of fact. It represents the type of organization you are striving to become and the goals you want to achieve. While very different from the mission statement, the vision statement is a clear complement to it. The vision statement helps set up the big picture for what drives your wealth advisory firm. When making any decisions or setting goals, you should always evaluate the validity by asking, “How does this relate back to our vision and help us achieve it?” Here are some general guidelines to help you create or refine your vision.
Goal: Describe, “Where do we want to go?”
Make it inspirational. Your vision statement should challenge, inspire and get your team excited. Powerful words and vivid phrases will help you define the type of firm you want to become.
Be ambitious. Be audacious when spelling out your vision, even if it feels a little scary to put your ambitions in writing. Do you want to be a million dollar producer, hit $500M or even $1B AUM? Do you want to be the largest advisor in your city? Do you want to be a Barron’s ranked financial advisor? Your vision is the place to aim high and set your intentions to the world.
Stay grounded. While being ambitious and setting high goals are important, you do need to stay somewhat grounded and maintain a sense of realism. It’s a balancing act to both strive but yet remain achievable.
Make it creative. Think creatively about what it is your envision and work that into your statement. Use descriptive language and vivid imagery to impart your to-be.
Make it clear. Avoid jargon, be concise with your language and use precise language. When you think you’ve finished, re-read several times to make sure it is crystal clear to any reader.
Make it consistent. While your vision statement is distinct from your mission statement and should be different, they should still tie to one another and maintain continuity.
If you’re having a hard time getting started, here are some action steps to help you update or create your financial advisor firm’s vision statement:
Examples of vision statements:
Google: “To provide access to the world’s information in one click.”
Starbucks: “To establish Starbucks as the premier purveyor of the finest coffee in the world while maintaining our uncompromising principles while we grow.”
Carson Wealth: “Our goal at Carson Wealth Management Group is to be your most trusted advisor through our professional knowledge, our integrity and our personalized service.”
Developing Your Advisor Mission Statement
Advisor mission statements come in many forms, from short and pithy to long and verbose. There are no absolutes in writing your firm’s mission statement, but here are some general guidelines to help you with yours.
Goal: Describe, “What do we do?” and “Why do we exist?”
Make it succinct. Preferably, a mission statement should be short and sweet, easy to memorize or print on the back of a business card.
Make it memorable. Make it something the employees (and clients) will be able to remember—if not in detail, then at least the key points.
Make it unique. Instead of using generic language, make your mission statement unique to your firm and descriptive of what your firm does differently.
Make it realistic. Remember the goal of the mission statement is to explain why your firm exists. It should describe the present, not the future (that’s what the vision statement is for!).
Make it current. Your mission statement shouldn’t be changed frequently, but it also shouldn’t be unchanging. Your business’s focus and priorities will shift over time, and your mission statement should be updated to reflect major changes. Taking a review every few years is a good idea, then make changes to update it when truly necessary.
PRO-TIP: To hone your mission statement and enhance brevity, try using Twitter’s 140-character template for your mission statement.
Here are some action steps to get you going to refresh or create your advisory firm’s mission statement:
You can also use your mission statement as an opportunity to tell your company’s story in a concise, aspirational way. Tell what you are trying to accomplish and how stakeholders, clients and partners play into that. Your mission statement should motivate those connected to your advisory firm, as well as those you hope to influence. Post your mission statement for your financial advisory business in a place where stakeholders and clients can clearly see it.
Creating your personal and professional mission statement is step 4 in the Carson Group Blueprinting Process. If you haven’t ever gone through the Blueprinting Process, now may be a great time!
Examples of mission statements:
Google: “Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
Nike: “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.”
Starbucks: “To inspire and nurture the human spirit — one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”
Zappos.com: “To provide the best customer service possible.”
Carson Wealth: “To inspire our clients to achieve True Wealth through education, communication and service, which exceeds their expectations.”
Identifying Your Firm’s Values
There are four different types of values for a business. It’s important to be aware of and understand their differences, because they can have a significant impact on your wealth advisory practice.
Core values are the deeply ingrained principles that guide a company’s actions. They should never be compromised. They are the source of a company’s distinctiveness and should be maintained at all costs.
Aspirational values are those that a firm needs to succeed in the future, but currently lacks.
Permission-to-plan values reflect the minimum behavior and social standards required of employees at your firm. These values typically do not distinguish your firm from competitors.
Accidental values are those that naturally arise without being stated or cultivated by a company’s leadership. They typically reflect the common interests or personality of the firm’s employees.
Your values statement lists those core values for which your firm stands for. Your core values are those operating philosophies that guide your internal and external conduct. They are the qualities that are most important to your firm’s culture and are non-negotiable when considering how (and with whom) you will do business. Your values define the type of firm you strive to be.
Goal: Describe, “Who are we?” and “What do we believe?”
Core values are as varied as the many different businesses they represent. They are the qualities that are non-negotiable for your business to deliver service to your clients. Here are some general guidelines to help you with yours.
Inspire and aspire. Knowing your core values can set your firm apart from the competition and serve as a catalyst for your employees. They should provide a reminder to the way you do business and positively inspire your team.
Live your values. Values should be aspirational but also real. You should be able to point to examples of your firm values in action across your business. When in doubt about a course of action, look back to your firm values to see if it fits with what you say you believe and stand for.
Beware empty values. Empty values can destroy your business. If you aren’t living your firm values, your value statement is empty and can create cynical, dispirited employees, clients and business partners. An empty values statement is worse than no value statement at all.
Have guts. Having a values statement—committing to paper what you believe and how you do business—is tough. It can cause pain, because it will become glaringly obvious if something (or someone) is out of alignment. You may need to make tough decisions to reflect that your business lives its values.
Own the process. You should be actively and continuously engaged in the process of outlining your values. It is not something you can hand off to your Director of First Impressions or support team. You need be actively engaged in defining and modeling your firm values.
PRO-TIP: There is no rule on how many values you should have, but 6-10 is about right for most firms.
Examples of Company Values:
- Deliver WOW Through Service
- Embrace and Drive Change
- Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
- Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
- Pursue Growth and Learning
- Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
- Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
- Do More With Less
- Be Passionate and Determined
- Be Humble
- Focus on the user and all else will follow
- It’s best to do one thing really, really well
- Fast is better than slow
- Democracy on the web works
- You don’t need to be at your desk to need an answer
- You can make money without doing evil
- There’s always more information out there
- The need for information crosses all borders
- You can be serious without a suit
- Great just isn’t good enough
Carson Wealth Management Group
- Professional Knowledge
- Personalized Service
Now is the perfect time to review your firm’s vision, mission and values statements or engage your team to create them if you haven’t already got them.
For advisor use only. Not intended for client distribution.